Bristol hoteliers claim the Government has left them out in the cold again after the budget offered nothing to ease concerns over soaring energy costs.
The Bristol Hoteliers Association (BHA) says members again feel like hospitality is the ‘forgotten sector’ despite the substantial contribution it makes to the nation’s economy.
Raphael Herzog, Chair of the BHA, said:
“It’s all fine and well for the Chancellor to extend the energy price guarantee for households, but there was no mention of extending any support for businesses, and our energy costs have been soaring, too.
“The main thing for me is the ‘not going into recession’ announcement, which will boost the morale of our customers and hopefully improve consumer confidence.
“But overall, the lack of support in this budget was a real blow to sector. We have been working so hard to get things back to some sort of normality following the impact of both Brexit and the pandemic.
“We’re still having significant difficulties recruiting the staff we need to provide the kind of service levels that customers expect from hospitality businesses.
“The only crumb of comfort in the budget was the freeze on draught beer duty, which may encourage people to visit hotel bars and pubs, but that’s cold comfort if the operators can’t afford the energy prices to keep those bars open.
“Ideally, we wanted the Government to ease the rules concerning recruitment in the EU, which would have helped us to recruit from abroad.
“While the childcare measures announced by the Chancellor, designed to enable more Mums to take up work, is welcome, the additional support won’t come in until 2024 and 2025, whereas we need to recruit more staff now.
“But at the very least, some sort of support for our energy bills would have been a welcome vote of confidence in our sector.
“On numerous occasions during the pandemic, we felt that hospitality was often the forgotten sector.
“Hoteliers repeatedly called for the Government to maintain a reduced rate of VAT to help get our businesses back up and running post-pandemic, but those pleas fell on deaf ears.
“Now it feels as if we have been forgotten again and I fear this could cause some severe difficulties for the sustainability of some hospitality businesses in Bristol.”
Mr Herzog added: “Earlier this month we hosted a glittering gala to celebrate and honour the efforts of the many heroes of Bristol’s hospitality sector, who have worked so hard in the face of many challenges and difficulties.
“One of the reasons we hold the Night of the Stars event is to showcase the varied roles and opportunities available in our sector and the passion and dedication of so many of our people.
“But it’s increasingly hard to keep those people motivated, when we all feel as if we have been forgotten by the Government.”